A lovely surprise: baby Prudence and Rena.
After Nanaimo Girl was released in April 2020, this photograph, taken 82 years ago, was sent to me “from one Nanaimo girl to another”.
The “other Nanaimo girl” was Linda, daughter of Rena, the beautiful woman holding me as a baby. She was Mum’s helper for many years and died at age 101, three years ago.
When daughter Linda read Nanaimo Girl, she sent the photo to me. “Rena was a wonderful cook and baker and your mother, who sent us a Christmas card every year, played a large part in her apprenticeship,” she recalled.
I recall Rena dressed as a traditional maid in a black dress, white apron and cap. When Mum tinkled a small brass bell in the dining room, Rena would emerge from the kitchen to wait on us. I don’t know if this memory was a childhood fantasy or not. I would’ve been four or five. Now that I’m in my 80s, I sometimes wonder if Mum fancied herself as a bit grand. The doyen of Nanaimo! Or if she was influenced by Dad, whose mother also had a brass bell.
I only wish I had known Rena was still alive so few years ago. It would have been wonderful to reconnect.